The Accrington Stanley Academy Development Squad returned to action with an impressive 4-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at the Stanley Sports Hub on Wednesday afternoon.
In what was the first league game in over four months for our Football College students, Stanley confidently overcame their East Lancashire rivals in a commanding performance.
After coming out of the blocks quickly, Stanley came close to an early lead through Toby Robson whose lobbed effort struck the crossbar, an early let off for the visitors. The Reds nearly found themselves ahead on 15 minutes as RJ Hudson’s close-range effort was impressively cleared off the line and away to safety by the Rovers defence.
Moments later and the home side again came close to taking the lead, this time through Robson who rocketed the bar after he skilfully skipped clear of the defender with a cheeky nutmeg.
The visitors first chance of note came on 25 minutes when their number six struck from the edge of the area, forcing goalkeeper Will Floyd-Simpson into a fine save low down to his left. The resulting corner saw a header crash against the post from six yards out, however the Stanley defence were quick to clear the threat.
Moments before half-time and the Reds domination and perseverance paid off. Ryan Bolton played a neat one-two from the corner before turning inside and unleashing a thunderbolt of a strike past the goalkeeper.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with a number of chances for the hosts, but they didn’t have to wait as long for their efforts to be rewarded. Jamie Sanderson doubled Stanley’s advantage on 53 minutes after turning away from danger inside the box and calmly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Six minutes later and the visitors were awarded a penalty. Their number 10 made no mistake, cheekily sending a Panenka down the middle of the goal, giving Floyd-Simpson no chance.
The home side did well to absorb pressure from Rovers and 11 minutes later, they extended their lead. Robson, who carved out a number of chances throughout the game, finally made his efforts count with a fierce strike into the bottom left corner. A deserved goal for the number 9.
The action didn’t stop there, and the Rovers shot stopper was forced into a wonderful save on 83 minutes, denying Sanderson’s long-range strike with an extended dive to tip the ball over the bar.
Undoubtedly the goal of the game came four minutes from time as full-back Kanish Shirodkar won possession down the left-hand side and unleashed an unstoppable curling effort which struck the up-right and nestled into the back of the net.
Moments before the final whistle and Bolton looked to add a fifth with a rocket from distance, but the crossbar cruelly denied him his second of the afternoon.
Stanley were great value for their win and will take great confidence from their first game back after the season’s suspension. The A team are back in action on 21 April when they host Tranmere Rovers in the cup.